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News/Business. (2013) Journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran discusses his article on the soaring cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program. New.




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  CSPAN    Q A    News/Business.  (2013) Journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran  
   discusses his article on the soaring cost of the F-35 Joint...  

    April 21, 2013
    8:00 - 9:01pm EDT  

followed by the funeral service for former british prime minister and later a look at american responses to terrorism and violent crimes. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> defense department's newest and most expensive weapon system. >> you did a front-page piece on a sunday about the f-35. what is it? >> it is the most expensive
weapons system in the history of the united states. history of mankind, quite frankly. it is an advanced warplane that is to be used by the air force, navy, and the marine corps. it is the replacement for the f-16. our new advanced all-purpose fighter jets. it was a plane that was supposed to be in the skies. it is still in development, is an incredibly troubled program, it has gone tens of billions of dollars over budget. i borrow again to this program as a way to write about the overall challenges. this program is singular in terms of its cost overruns, delays, and the way it has been structured. its most affected attribute the
not be all of its radars and sensors and missiles and stealth technology and the ability to fight at supersonic speeds. it may well be the way it has been designed to evade budget cutters in washington. >> what is the difference between e f-35 and the f-22? 22 has had its share of technical troubles. the was supposed to be height and fighter. the replacement for the f-15. it is a real high performance fighter. it is meant to win against any potential adversary in dogfights. to have fewer f-22 and then you would have more of the f-35. , forwould be the mainstay
the next 40 or 50 years. if you are fighting against a sophisticated adversary, the f- 22 are going in and they are fighting in the air against the adversaries of combat aircraft. the f-35 comes then and there are carrying the bombs that will take out the other military targets. they are the second wave that come in with -- to do the real heavy lifting. these are planes that are supposed to be all purpose. the f-35 is supposed to be able to provide support to combat troops on the ground if they're fighting and some african nation. they're supposed to be able to provide a degree of aerial
reconnaissance in other parts of the world. -- ifas supposed to be the f-22 was going to be the cadillac in the skies for the air force, the f-35 was supposed to be the chevrolet. >> the half-22 stopped at 107 -- 87 airplanes. why? >> because of the engineering challenges, because of costs, the pentagon and congress decided to do was to say, we cannot afford to build as many of these as we want. from.erall buy the overall cost, it is not that much lower. what you have, but the real tragedy is that the cost per plane is much greater than what
was supposed to be. >> $400 million a plane. let's run some video. this is from the lockheed martin website. we have kept it just does assault on the website. this is so we can see what it looks like and how blocky promotes the to the public. >> -- lockheed martin promotes the to the public. >> ♪ ♪
>> what did you see there? >> boy, something i would love to fly in. that both plays up america's combat air superiority. it shows off a very sexy airplane. it was designed in a very futuristic way. nothing like those images of planes taking off and landing demonstrateo american military might. very well produced ad that helps a top gun element to this.
we should have these. lockheed martin is the principal contractor building nests. h how dare to whether -- theyomred to other contractors? >> there are the largest contractor. they build a whole host of weapon systems, they do a lot of work for the military, classified work. the biggest part of their hardwareis providing and other services to the defense department. if -- it is right, run by a woman. >> a number of our largest defense contractors are run by women. >> any reason why this has happened. it was fortuitous in some of
these other firms. the rise of female executives has been occurring over time. at some of the nation's largest defense contractors. women areust how breaking through the glass ceiling in a field that has been dominated by men. >> when you set out to do this article, where did you start? >> i started by reaching out to some friends in the u.s. marine were because i knew they invested in the f-35. the f-35 is supposed to replace every marine combat airplanes that they have. withnt a lot of time marines in afghanistan. i want to learn more about this.
in those initial conversations that led me to reach out to more people, to critics on the outside, but to folks at the air force, navy, to really borrow into this. what i learned very quickly is that this is a very complex program with a very troubled ory it was not something i would understand overnight. i spent weeks and weeks. >> when did you started? >> i started in the fall. i was distracted by of some other things, not the least of which was the resignation of david petraeus. i came back to it earlier this -- in therge part fall, i was a little unsure. once it became clear that we going off thebe
sequestration clef, and issues of the future of the defense budgets, the scope and scale of its work coming to the floor, it took on -- the story of the troubles, the story of the giant costs is not new. a number of my esteemed colleagues in the press corps have written about it in recent years. to me, all of this needed to be set in the debate that is now in washington about the federal budget. i thought, if i could examine this program through the lens of budget cutting that would be a new way to look at this and it might tell us we did not already know. >> i want to put on the screen a stride -- aside from your
article. -- a slight from your article. planes for $233 billion. move ahead 12 years, the 2443 plants, and $397.1 billion. the design and production, $84 billion already been spent. what happened? the price has almost doubled. we are getting fewer planes for much money. we have spent an enormous amount of money and the plane is only about 17% tested. the software code is to be written.
the marine version still having engineering challenges. let that slide tells you is the -- themount of money growth of this program in terms of the initial estimate was so different from the reality. this reflects the technical challenges. what critics will tell you is that this is a program that has run amok. .t has run aground it has run out of control. >> more video of the marine version, trying to work for your article showing how these planes. here is the marine video. >> ♪
♪ >> helicopter landing ship, not a regular carrier. why do they need that? >> the marines have 11 of those types of ships. they have short? where they can fly planes like that and helicopters. the marines want to continue to have fixed wing combat aircraft and fly them off of those. if we have a plane that can do
that, that doubles the nation's carrier fleet the navy has 11 full-length aircraft carriers. you could put the ships in other parts of the world or if you in afighting a war can broader array and have those ships serve as platforms to both launched those sorts of plans and bring them home. versionrth noting that isthe airplane call up that the costliest and most troubled want. the challenge of taking this fighter jets and getting it to land and take off like a helicopter. even the massive engineering accomplishment, there is still a lot of kinks to be worked out. just getting to that point has involved billions and billions
of dollars of design work. >> winded the f-35 planning process started? >> the program itself began in 2001. planning for began years before that. be aevision was going to noble one. an idea that you build one aircraft and it would be used by three differentvi at th forche marines, and the navy. fly with planes could navy planes, they would be able to talk to each other. that did not happen. in part because the services -- the navy wanted to off the the marines want to go up and down like this. the air force one of the plans to be stealthy, to fly longer
ranges. you have these requirements that started to make each of the three versions more and more different. what was supposed to be an airplane that would have 70% similarity between the three versions now is about 70% different. that has been a big factor that has led to the increase in costs. >> chairman of the armed seicmitt is not going to run again, that we see a lot of them on this network. here he is talking about the f- 22. let's listen to his attitude about that a few years ago. >> this debate is not about whether or not we will have the capability of the f-22. about how many we should have and what cost. we are talking about whether or not we should accept the recommendations of two commanders in chief, two
secretaries of defense, to chairman of the joint chiefs of up 187 f-22 is what we need and all the we can afford. who was pushing more f-22? >> members of congress from states where those planes are produced. andoceed ma has me of s largest business interests as well as some of the key contractors. >> 45 states have something to do with the f-35. i was on there website yesterday and it is up to 47. what is going on? >> critics call this political engineering. as broadly asute you can around the country so that you spread the employment
around i knew when banks support of members of congress from around the country so that it is not just this helps taxes or georgia or california, virginia. but you get to smaller states, too, to help win new friends on capitol hill. >> the list of the states and how much money they get for the f-35 and how many people are employed. california is number 1 with 27,000 jobs. not sure why texas has 41,000 with only $4.9 billion. you can see which states have the most jobs at of all this. the chairman of the armed services committee is from california. top 15.a almost 1000 jobs at least.
georgia, indiana, michigan, utah, vermont, washington. lockheed martin would argued that it is only for official suppliers around the country. those who are critical would say they are actively trying to spread it around and there is no reason to do it other than to try to win political support. the bulk of the plane is built in texas and california. that is where the real work is being done. a benefit to having -- even a few dozen jobs in a small state, it is a way into trying to convince those members that this is a program that is worth $397.1 billion of our taxpayer money. >> i will pull out some quotes from your piece and you can explain it. this aircraft reinforces the
white americans go to work. we do not want to win -- we want to win 99-0. at-35 willnced the become a superstar in the arsenal of the united states. thought this was interesting is because it speaks the approach the air force is taking to aerial warfare. instead of saying, like the infantry in the army, that you will have some losses when you go into an operation. we will send planes to do some of these bombing runs. we may lose some of them. the air force wants to establish air superiority right away, like we did in the first goal for.
a zeroth to get to pilot lost standard for some of these conflicts. it wants to put in more and more enhancements, and that costs money. to try to make the planes stopped the year, to make them faster, to evade enemy fire. what you get on more expensive planes. >> who did you try to talk to would not talk to you? >> i stayed away from the senior most political leadership areuse their positions pretty well known. what i wanted to do was to reach out to the three services and of ain an environment
constricting budget, why do you want to spend some much money on this? i reached out to the pentagon office that is managing the program to understand what they were doing to fix this program. to people outside the military to get their perspective. >> how cooperative was lockheed martin? >> they were pretty cooperative. they made some of their executives available to me for interviews. they got me to sit in a flight simulator. in crystal the river city, va., not more than a 10- minute car ride from capitol hill, as part of their flight simulator center, it is a place
where members of congress and their staff members and other government officials can go. it is a chance to show off the virtues of the airplane to the washington crowd. i did travel down to an air force base in florida to see the plane in action. on the florida panhandle i pensacola. >> is there a prison down there? >> good question. figures are in a prison down there. >> i tried to stay away from prison. >> sunday, march 10, was when this article was published. -- are we not allowed of classified lot features on this airplane. it has a lot of electronic warfare capabilities. it has a lot of really high-tech sensors that are able to the
backing up data, see what is up on the ground from a distance and crunch it all through computing technology. there is a lot of capabilities to this airplane that the military and lockheed martin could not talk to me about. >> when the f-35 finishes testing, there will be no yes or no, up or down decisions. deliberate, it was solomon and of ensuring it could not be cancelled. -- it was all in the name of ensuring it could be -- it could not be cancelled. think isaks to what i the most remarkable way in which this program was designed. cutters onade budget capitol hill. normally you would think when
you are designing an airplane, you build a prototype. you kick the tires. and then you decide, i will bill did. prototype for the half-35. while we are still designing his plane, while millions of lines of software still have to be written, lockheed martin has been authorized by the pentagon and paid to begin production of these planes. lockheed barton has built 65 of them for the military. it is only 17% tested. by the time the plan is fully toted in 2017, according defense department estimates, we will at around 365 of them. will come 365 of them.
all the planes being built, but it cost money to go back in mayofit tby the time is fully , be and has too many flaws, there will be so many of them, it will not make sense to cancel the program. video of the air force you talked about. -35 airforce version. as-35 airforcehe version. >> ♪ ♪
>> s-35 airforcion,vers what is the difference between the half-15 and the half-16? >> its is stealthy. you did not see bombs and missiles hanging off of it. they're all in a weapons buy underneath. it allows the plane to be more effectively to evade enemy radar. the plane is supersonic, like 5 and f-16. what is most remarkable is you cannot -- is what the coppin looks like. -- cockpit looks like. if you have been in a commercial jets, switches everywhere. it cockpit of the f-35,
looks futuristic and it looks like a small some as not aircraft. -- cessna aircraft. it has these touchscreen the opposite -- this place that you can touch with your fingertip to execute demands. it has a control stick and a couple of other switches, but that is it. it has fewer thatwo don switches. it is all computerized. a lockheed martin how do pilots adapt to this? >> for the older guys is a lot tougher. ipad generation. if you walk to identify or hits a target, you are looking at the video display. the plane nose and computes how to hit it.
>> to are we worried about? >> that is a good question. the defense department, lockheed there are ad say big nation states out there is still have sophisticated air forces. they do n take off names specifically, but all of us know they're referring to countries like china -- >> same level? >> no. this is a generation more dance than anything else. that since the defense department very well. people you are concerned about cost say, but do you really need something the sophisticated? do you need this many of them? could you not achieve some of this more efficiently? they also argue that advancements and unmans
aviation policy progressing so fast that 10 years from now, some of the staff may be obsolete because we will be doing a lot more of its with unmanned technology. >> more politicalles of this, this goes back to december 5, 2011, a senator john mccain. nutshell, the program has been both a scandal in a tragedy. the program has been in development phase for 10 years. over that time, it has been a been a share it of $56 billion -- beneficiary of $56 billion of taxpayer investment. we still do not have an aircraft that provides the air force, navy, marine corps with the combat capability they need. >> what happens after that?
the u.s. marine corps, the most politically adept of all the services, decides to station the first operational squads of left-35. they are not really operating net. -- yet. they invite john mccain. it might be good to read what he has to say when he comes to that ceremony. it is very different than what he said on the floor of the senate. >> this is a long article and i cannot get my finger on it. >> he strikes a far more conciliatory tone. far are less critical of the program. >> what happened to him and his attitude? >> it is a source of employment
for his family. with the marines bringing the squadron, that will bring jobs. he quotes anticle, electrical engineer who worked as a manager beginning in 2001 said the development effort was be said with a tremendous organizational inadequacies. why, after all these years would they be in this type of position? >> no one was paying attention and washington. this program kicks off in 2001. what happens this year? the war in afghanistan.
the leadership of the pentagon was so consumed with those wars, they ner pai attention to weapons procurement programs. at least weapons programs that are not directly related to the ongoing wars. as this program was having these are the troubles, there was no adult leadership at the pentagon. , thised martin mismanagement my source talks about, it was not worried at that point of the pentagon coming down and scolding can because it knew that nobody was watching. 30-second only a
clip. he is talking about another issue regarding the have-35. this was back in 2010. >> all across america, families are tightening their belts, making good with less. they expect the same from congress. i imagine their frustration when they hear congress is pushing $3ward and not necessary billion program. only in washington could a company that lost competition in the private sector and already controls 88% of the military come seeking a government directed subsidy and call that competition. >> what is he talking about? >> the alternative engine. for years, another reason why people work has focused on the bigger problems with the airplane, compress was trying to push on to the defense
department's and another engine for his plane. the engine for the aircraft that the pentagon wanted is being built by pratt whitney. some members of congress were pushing a second engine built by the arrival contractor in large political -- the hope among some that it would lead to jobs in their states. it was a classic case of congress foisting on the defense department something it did not want to add it to another $3 billion. it was a double sideshow and distracted from some of the greater problems and challenges. >> does any other country in the world have this set up? >> no. no other country spends nearly
what we do on this. >> is it good or bad that congress -- >> it is hopeful that congress acts as a check on some of these runaway programs. in many cases, congress is trying to sh the pentagon to do it staff that it does not want to do. members of congress wanted for their own interest. we continued to build tanks and ohio. why do we do that? members of the ohio delegation want the jobs. the army does not think it needs any more tanks. >> there is a " in your article about the marine corps is ability to get what it wants. is anes -- i think it army officer. why does the marine corps and air force that has the navy? army neededthe navy
on air force? the answer goes back to world war mccahill ii. the marine corps felt abandoned on the pacific islands. since then, theve insisted on bringing their own combat aviation to fight. if you look at iraq and afghanistan, there were persistent on bringing their own helicopters, their own jets. what --nes, because of their desire to bring their own aircraft, going to part of the country that was far less significant than where they should have gone. it is that same thinking that drives the marines to want the half-35. we need to have the same kind of combat aviation gear force on
the marines do. did they really? the marine corps really need to be able to participate in the first strike attack? those of the fundamental questions that membs congress do when it comes to looking at programs like this. >> has the navy landed one of these f-35 summit carrier yet? >> no. >> the actual plane is never seen with the arresting gear. ♪ ♪
>> that is from the lockheed martin website. >why can a plant on a carrier? >> they have not designed to the -- it is complex engineering, but to be able to catch the arresting wires. ,he way the plane is designed the hook has to be far from the back and that creates its own set of challenges. this is what happens when you try to build one size fits all. it becomes much harder to meet these requirements.
>> i want to put back on the screen the slide that shows the amount of money and the number of planes that will be spent. at 2852creen, in 2001, plans for $233 billion. when they give be the cost of anybody, a pentagon, lockheed martin, do they put in the cost of the research and development? yes. this phase, that is part of it. when they move beyond the design phase, that does not become fact. >> what is the cost of this airplane now?
>> $160 million apiece. >> what will be in a few years? >> it will drop to around $100 billion. -- $100 million, pardon me. those are operational targets. >> canadian is still building the f-18. >> what will be in a few years? >> it will drop to around $100 billion. driving the navy. to reexamine whether it wants to >> that is what isbuy as many fs committed to or whether it can get away with the advanced f-18 for the moment. and the wait for an additional advancements in unmans technology and maybe gets out ntirely -- comes with a military contract, how much would they have to pay
lockheed martin? >> they have to pay some sort of penalty. of what be a fraction the' pgo spend on these planes. >> you read the editor-in-chief of the stanford daily. i want to take a break to get some background. appearancehow you an that you had on this network back in 1998. >> what we are seeing in the internet is so young and it is emerging so quickly. it is shaking a lot and we have a hard time. in the real world, we know there is a different standard for the national choir than "the new york times. it is not clear on the internet. a lot of people who were subscribing to a website and not known much about it, there is no longstanding reputation.
>> what are you doing? then? -- what were you doing back then. >> a lot of gray hair between then and now. >> that is what i wanted to get to, you have been a post for 19 years. how much time have be spent on the military? >> the best part of the last decade. i was a foreign correspondent in southeast asia when 9/11 occurred. i quickly turned into a war correspondent. i was in pakistan a couple of days after 9/11 and eventually into afghanistan. the following summer, i move to the middle east. i started going into iraq. i spent the following two years running our bureau in baghdad.
i came back to write a book about the iraq war. i did some manants at the newspaper. in the news room -- after my stand and management, there was nothing i wanted to do more than run off to another war. i covered the war in afghanistan. split in my time between washington, d.c., and afghanistan. i wrote that book you are holding up. -- thehave a hard book hardback version. we have gone to 10 years of the iraq war. >> the longest war in our nation's history. >> when you look back, did we get our money's worth? >> iraq?
, god. the true financial cost, north of a trillion dollars. ,ost almost 4500 lives countless thousands of others wounded. we have the government there for is -- i make no excuses saddam hussein. we have a government there which is more closely aligned with iran that it is with the united states. we have a fundamental political issue unresolved between the principal groups in rocky society.- iraqi all for what? there were no weapons of mass destruction. led toeration of barack the arab spring.
-- iraq led to the arab spring. tag, there is no way it was worth more than a trillion dollars and as many lives as it cost. on march 15.piece we have to go back. is a mess. the troupe -- this is a note mth. the troop surge succeeded. >> you can bring those principal factions together to force the grant agreement. you have some longer-term stability. the surge need for security, iraqi leaders did not take
advantage of that security to force the necessary contacts. >> in iraq is relatively peaceful. >> koran this attacks that occur almost daily or weekly. -- horrendous attacks that occur almost daily or weekly. >> iraq is a democracy. n paper, it is. but the government -- the prime minister is moving to nsolidate a lot of power in ways that are disenfranchising political rivals and leading many rockies to see at those -- iraqis to see many echoes of saddam hussein. >> will he run again? >> i believe he is term limited out. >> iraq is in iran's pocket? >> iraq and iran are very closely allied, but when you -- to provide supplies
to the syrian dictator bashar al-assad, there is one view that he is being forced to do so because the iranian pressure. he has his own reasons to want to have the iranian support assad. if the syrian rebels to apple the government in damascus, they will work in concert with iraq's minority population to further destabilize his government. theour final mth is that isericans already -- myth the americans have already left. >> we have hundreds of personnel there. there is an american presence in iraq. >> your personal reaction to general petraeus's situation when he had to leave the cia and
hadley mcchrystal when he to leave his post. what was your personal reaction? >> i was surprised by both. , a man who preaches great virtue. talk a lot about the importance of character. it was not something i expected. i am not the only one among the people who knew him to have been deeply surprised and saddened by that. i spent a lot of time with them. to say that did i was surprised his public affairs officer would not
such particular ground rules with the reporter and i was give aed that he did not good spanking. instead, the president accepted his offer of resignation. >> when he wrote his book, he never named michael hastings. was that a smart thing to do? she never really explained himself. >> i would have liked to have seen more of. this is a defining moment in his career. forced out of the army. he deserved more than a page and a half in a book. led him to a remarkable career in transition or he is
teaching at yale university. he is open up a consulting firm that is doing work. he has not gone away, he is a brilliant guy and a very capable leader. i would have liked to have seen him talk a little bit more about some of the lessons he has taken away. >> back to your march 10 peace. -- piece. too big to bail. did you meet him? >> that was that another base in maryland where our photographer when to go take pictures. this is windy gramm on the
floor. >> the air force, are we going to have enough airplanes? what happens to the left-35? >> it depends on what the topline is going forward. >> let's say it's sequestration toledo's into effect. it wil hardiz >> it will be impossible to modernize. >> would that make it more difficult to go into a situation? >> yes, sir. >> senator is still in the air force? >> was serviced. >> what was going on? >> he was talking about the impacts of sequestration on the f-35 program. it is not having much of an impact. the bigger question is what would happen if further rounds of cuts take place.
that discussion really avoids howcentral issue, which is many of broad plains does the air force -- how many overall plans to they need? how many can the united states afford it? >> you are making too much noise with your paper. inside tog spread full pages. a journalism question. how hard is it today with the shrinking size of newspapers to get this story in a newspaper? >> it is not as easy as it once was. when you have a story that is important, when it touches upon key issues in washington, and when you can tell is in a compelling way, i can still build the necessary support. they're committed to doing this
sort of work. >> what kind of reaction did you get? >> phenomenal reaction. from people within the military, peoplen the political leadership of our government, it got a lot of traction. it is not a brand new story, it has just been told in a different way. at this moment, it was something it on issues.y >> i want to read this paragraph. the program supports 133,000 u.s. jobs. what happened to those states? two more states have been added.
did a study that and do not on purpose? >> the company would deny it, but critics say, they are thatng for how to spread wealth as broadly as possible. it is not just u.s. states. they are suppliers around the world. >> how many different countries will by this aircraft? >> eight countries. the hope is they will sell its two more. some of those countries have not just committed, they have invested money upfront. this is another barrier to cutting because the united states buys fewer of these airplanes, it drives up the cost per plane for the allies. there is a potential diplomatic cost. let's say the united states
buys 500. that raises the cost for britain, which is counting on the f-35 to replace all of its jetsn its rarier it i like the marine version of the f-35. it is not nearly as sophisticated. >> i wrote down a bunch of countries. britain, italy, norway, canada, australia. when you look back at this piece a follow-hat would be up? where will people be able to go to find more information if there was no more details? >> that is a very good question. in some very good work that has been done by the government accountability office and the cbo. some very gooden reports, some of the best for
has been done by those organizations. if you want to delve into this, do a google search for the f-35 and gao. up for you?a follow- >> i am looking at some other military budget issues. portionense an enormous of our overall federal budget. it is important to look at some of the trade-offs. as we go forward, what can we afford? what is important for national defense? what are the sorts of things we waste money on? >> there were you writing for? to them?ou appeal >> i tried to make the plane the central character. stories about military procurement, budget issues, they are complex, hard to understand,
filled with jargon. i tried to step back and say, hocawayel i th will be eag people? the way to do this would be to focus on the plane itself. e got out.ks you'v thank you very much for joining us. >> great to talk to you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> 48 dvd copy, -- for a dvd copy, call this number. to give us your comments about this program, visit us at
8:59pm >> a funeral service for margaret thatcher. a look at the new report on american perceptions of terrorism. after that, another chance to see "q & a." monday, republican senator of utah on the future of the republican party. the heritage foundation host the event. >> for the financial-services sector, we have seen a denial of service. it is a way of flooding the
network with information requests that cause a slowdown or a stoppage of service. cyber criminals are after money. >> is confidential information, you don't want to many people do not how the system works. it is difficult to explain air traffic control in a soundbite. we get things every day. the major attacks we have had have done on customer information systems or things of that nature. -- theve not been attacks that keep me up tonight are the ones that would ease and damage to our critical infrastructure. >> protecting critical u.s. infrastructure from cyber attacks, monday night on "the communicators."